Child rearing sometimes scares me. Intentionally or not, we shape our children with our attitudes, actions, beliefs and decisions. Case in point, much of our parenting practices manifest from our own upbringing. I would guess that your method of discipline, holiday traditions, education choices and church denomination reflect your own childhood experiences. Our upbringing provides invaluable instruction in how or how not to interact with our own children. However, I find myself wrestling with a cultural issue for which I have little childhood context yet demands incredible parental intention: affirming God’s good design for gender and sex in a world applauding gender fluidity and homosexuality.
As a parent, I cannot duck these issues. If my children attend public school, it’s very likely they will have a friend with two moms or have a transgender classmate. Even now, my toddlers may see two men holding hands at the grocery store or two women taking their child to a doctor appointment. It’s impossible to shelter my kids from these issues nor should I. My children need Biblical guidance, and the LGBT community needs the Gospel. These needs cannot be met in a vacuum. I am far from fleshing all this out practically, but I’m finding that my good Father faithfully provides teachable moments in unexpected places. I just need to discern these moments to teach and affirm His truth.
The kids and I occasionally sing catechisms at breakfast. Question four of the New City Catechism asks, “How and why did God create us?” The kids bounce and sing through mouthfuls of toast, “God created us male and female in his own image to glorify him.”
Afterwards, I realized parent and children alike were benefiting from one of the Father’s teachable moments. I had absentmindedly sang the very answer to all my fears about how to prepare my kids in this sex crazy world. They were presently memorizing the base answer to all their future questions about gender and sexuality: “God created us male and female in his own image to glorify him.” This simple catechism unpacks man’s design and purpose in view of an ultimate Authority. The LGBT community rejects the good design of the Creator by advocating gender choice, self-image and self-glory, but God decides our gender to reflect His image and to bring Him glory: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). I simply need to faithfully affirm His good design in the following ways.
First, God created us. Literally everything originates in Him. He powerfully spoke all things into existence, and as the sole Designer, He solely decides his creation’s nature and function. What is His design? He created people distinctively male and female. God created them for each other, to complement each other body and soul. He witnessed their first sweet embrace and declared them very good: He commanded them to multiply His goodness with more boys and girls. Deviation from this design is sin, and He has rightful authority to punish that sin. Quite simply any sexual union other than a man and woman does not reflect God’s good design.
Second, we bear His image. God created us to reflect himself by endowing us with an everlasting soul equipped with creativity, intellect, emotions and will. These traits distinguish us from the rest of creation and give us inherent value. However, we all sin. Sin defaces God’s image in us and estranges us from Him. Yet God offers rebirth and restored fellowship through the atoning sacrifice of His Son, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). Originally made in the image of God, through salvation we are remade into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). God desires this restoration for his creation: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:20b-21). We teach our kids to denounce all sin but love all sinners. We plead with the LGBT community: you are a beloved image-bearer for whom Christ died, so be reconciled to him.
Third, God created us to glorify Him. We glorify God by loving and obeying Him. In the case of sexuality, we glorify Him by submitting to His authoritative design. God’s children cannot affirm the actions of the LGBT community, or any deviation from God’s law, because sin directly violates God’s nature and his commands. Furthermore, sin terminates the chief function of man to bring God glory because sin seeks self-glory. Rather than loving God, sin encourages us to love self. Instead of obeying God, sin insists there are no rules. Yet genuine love compels us to speak the Gospel: all sin separates us from God and condemns us to death. But God sent His Son to die in our place that we may be free from sin and able to glorify Him. We dare not besmirch such a gift by condoning sin and glorifying self.
I will probably stumble through many future, awkward conversations with my children, but already the Lord has given many simple opportunities to affirm His good design. For instance, on my daughter’s fourth birthday, we rescued a little male kitten. Our family enjoyed brainstorming names, but ultimately, the birthday girl chose the very fitting, masculine name of Whiskers. A couple months later, my daughter approached me with the decision to rename the cat with a girl name she liked much better. I objected, but my daughter insisted that she didn’t want the cat to be a boy anymore. She wanted Whiskers to be a girl instead. What a perfectly simple opportunity to affirm God’s good design. “No, we do not get to choose whether we want to be a boy or a girl. Whiskers is a boy because God made him that way.” Nothing super deep here—just simple Bible truth.
Although times have changed, God’s Word has not. It’s overwhelming to consider how to properly protect and train our children in a world ruled by feeling and attraction, but God honors faithfulness. We can start now and start small by teaching God’s Word, affirming God’s good design and entrusting our children to the care of our good Father.